wreak


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal.

wreak havoc

To cause a lot of problems. Termites have wreaked havoc on the structural integrity of our house, unfortunately.
See also: havoc, wreak

play havoc with (someone or something)

To cause issues or disruptions for someone or something. The road closures have played havoc with rush-hour traffic. This humidity is going to play havoc with my hair.
See also: havoc, play

wreak havoc (with something)

to cause a lot of trouble with something; to ruin or damage something. Your bad attitude will wreak havoc with my project. The rainy weather wreaked havoc with our picnic plans.
See also: havoc, wreak

wreak something (up)on someone or something

to cause damage, havoc, or destruction to someone or something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) The storm wreaked destruction upon the little village. It wreaked much havoc on us.
See also: on, wreak

wreak vengeance (up)on someone or something

Cliché to seek and get revenge on someone by harming someone or something. The gangster wreaked his vengeance by destroying his rival's house. The general wanted to wreak vengeance on the opposing army for their recent successful attack.
See also: on, vengeance, wreak

play havoc

Also, raise or wreak havoc . Disrupt, damage, or destroy something, as in The wind played havoc with her hair, or The fire alarm raised havoc with the children, or The earthquake wrought havoc in the town. The noun havoc was once used as a command for invaders to begin looting and killing, but by the 1800s the term was being used for somewhat less aggressive activities. For a synonym, see play the devil with.
See also: havoc, play

play/wreak ˈhavoc with something

cause damage, destruction or disorder to something: The terrible storms wreaked havoc with electricity supplies, because so many power lines were down.
See also: havoc, play, something, wreak

wreak havoc

Create confusion and inflict destruction. Havoc, which comes from the medieval word for “plunder,” was once a specific command for invading troops to begin looting and killing in a conquered village. This is what Shakespeare meant by his oft-quoted “Cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war” (Julius Caesar, 3.1). Although the word still means devastating damage, to wreak it has been transferred to less warlike activities, as in “That puppy will wreak havoc in the living room.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the The Birds of Killingworth (1863) stated, “The crow . . . crushing the beetle in his coat of mail, and crying havoc on the slug and snail.”
See also: havoc, wreak
References in periodicals archive ?
Not wreck (pronounced exactly like reck) but wreak (pronounced like reek) was the verb that eluded our newspaper scribbler.
Why invade Iraq and let Mugabe wreak far more terror in Zimbabwe?
A tragedy occurred in the An Lo valley of Vietnam when teams of ten killers were sent into the jungle to wreak havoc among the Vietcong.
UV rays penetrate skin and wreak havoc on your cells' delicate chemistry--they can even damage your DNA (chemical blueprint for all life).
While Spamfire is not anti-virus software, it is an integral part of a complete defense against the kind of damage virus writers can wreak," said Michael Herrick, Matterform's president.
It can make chronic problems like diabetes and arthritis pain worse and wreak havoc on emotional wellbeing and close relationships.
As American Heritage III points out in its Usage Note at wreak, "The past tense and past participle of wreak is wreaked, not wrought, which is an alternative past tense and past participle of work.
This time, I wanted to wreak a little havoc [panic].
Will a Hubba sex tape scandal spell the end or will the boys add yet another heavy hitter to the already stacked lineup and wreak more performance havoc?
It is 1969, and a cloistered block in west Philadelphia is shaken to its core by long kept secrets, betrayal and lies that wreak terrible damage on two families.